Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Art Stolen From The Lower Depths Tap Room

If you're an artist and you don't want your art to be stolen, then don't hang it at the Lower Depths Tap Room on Commonwealth Ave near Fenway Park in Boston.

I hate to hit my dear readers over the head with such a vengeful and self-serving statement, but I want to ensure that I include as many searchable terms here as possible, such as: "art theft", "painting stolen", "not safe for an art show", "manager of the Lower Depths is an oily troll scumbag". And in case you're better with pictures than words, this is the place:

Faithful VTKids may remember that I had a showing of my baseball paintings at Bukowski Tavern in Inman Square earlier this summer. That show went quite well - I sold four paintings, the manager couldn't have been better to deal with, and the owner had a message conveyed to me to contact her other bar, The Lower Depths Tap Room, about having a show of the baseball paintings there. It sounded like an ideal situation, since it's a couple blocks from Fenway in Kenmore Square. Earlier this year, I'd been frustrated to find out that that neighborhood is off-limits to street vendors - a fact that derailed my plans to walk around and sell the very same baseball paintings to the roving Fenway Faithful. As for the bar, I was concerned about possible drunk college kid theft, but it seemed like a decent gamble considering the potential sales to suburban, spendy, day-in-the-city, drunk, impulse buyers. If one got stolen, it would hopefully only be after a few sales and then I'd simply take the show down and cut my losses, as they say.

Now, if I were to come up with a comic book caricature of the worst person for an artist to deal with, I could not have done better than the oily incompetent troll that bears the title of manager of the Lower Depths. And I couldn't have conjured a better wanker of a sidekick than his smarmy bartender. Maybe they resented the show being pushed on them by ownership and responded by doing the bare minimum in working with me. Maybe they don't like artists and wish they were a more standard sports bar. Dunno. What I du no is that it was clear that they were not going to do one percent more than necessary in the arrangement or management of this show. Despite the show being solicited by the owner, I had to call repeatedly, week after week, and bike out of my way to the place twice to meet with them, before even getting a time frame and confirmation of the show. This is a pain in the ass under normal circumstances, but becomes a real pain in the ass when you have to postpone other shows in order to wait on the coveted baseball season Fenway show. I inquired about the theft issue and Oily Troll and Wank McWankerstein both told me that the place was patronized by more grad students than undergrads and they'd never had a painting stolen. They made it sound like the atmosphere found in both Bukowski Taverns, which are inhabited by a mostly non-thieving crowd.

On the day of the show, I dropped the paintings off in a rush since I was illegally parked and needed to get the zipcar back. When I told this to the bartender, whom I'd met twice before, and said I'd be right back, he motioned for me to hold up while he finished his phone call. He talked for two minutes and then waved me on, without hanging up, talking to me, or moving from behind the bar. When I returned on bike to hang the paintings and put up the price/info tags, he told me that I couldn't hang the tags, that the owner "didn't want it to seem like a gallery". This almost certainly allowed the thief to think they were stealing from the bar, rather than stealing from the artist. He told me he'd keep a price list behind the bar.

When the painting (pictured here) did get stolen, the Oily Troll couldn't have cared less. Really. I'm trying to envision a scenario in which it could be said that they cared less. I can't. They didn't even contact me to let me know. I happened to drop by because I found out that they were not telling people the prices and instead telling them to email me (not great if you're going for that day-at-the-game, drunk, impulse sales). When I asked him about the missing painting, the oily troll acted aggressive/defensive, like I was being a primadonna, and like it was just one of those things. He said he was going to contact me at some point. He seemed to be trying to manage my reaction and to convey that I had no right to be upset about it. When I asked him if there was somewhere we could store them until I got back later, he asked why. Because my art was stolen, dickhead, and I'm not hanging them here anymore. He refused to store them and said I would have to leave them on the wall until I got back.

Oddly, the real salt in the wound is the fact that I acted like a consummate professional throughout the whole experience. I mean, you want to be an unprofessional, obnoxious dickhead? I can do that. I'm really fucking good at that. But I held back. This anger management stuff is bullshit. *Walking away from bar, fuming, thinking about how I'm going to update my facebook status*


Brian said...

I've been there after a game once. Plenty of other options in the area (Cambridge one, Audubon) that lack trolls. One and done for me.

Dan said...

Good man.

Kevin said...

Been there once too with Brian. One and done for me too. What a suckhole.

Dan said...

The good news is that the people at the Bukowskis have been great, so those fine establishments are AOK in the VTK Book.